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Webb Businesses: We're taking a hit from construction

By ANNA MEILER

WEBB, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Officials in the Town of Webb say plans for a bike path have been in the works for years, but some business owners are feeling caught off guard.

“It’s a shock and a really big surprise,” said Dick Bird, who owns Bird’s Marine.

A $2 million grant is being used to construct a path from Thendera to Rail Road Ave in Old Forge, expanding the TOBIE trail. But, about a dozen businesses along Route 28 say they’re feeling the impact.

The new trail eats away 20 feet of the front of Bird’s shop, making it difficult for him to display his boats for sale.

“We haven’t had many people coming in and out because we’re all dug up here. If we’d had known about it of course we would have stated our objections, attended the meetings like that,” said Bird.

The Webb town supervisor says residents had a chance to object at meetings back in 2010. The town didn’t send out any recent notifications, but the supervisor says he’s surprised to hear property owners didn’t know about the plans.

“I know there was a lot of news paper coverage here locally so I believe the public had the opportunity to know what was going on with the project,” said Ted Riehle, Webb Town Supervisor.

Bird is also concerned the path will be hazardous for bikers due to cars pulling in and out of the business parking lots. But, Riehle says the path will be much safer than the current alternative- a sliver of the road just opposite of where the new path will be.

“Safe travels for pedestrians and bikers has always been an issue. It’s never been a safe path,” said Riehle.

Many bikers say they’re thrilled to see the path being built. Lennard and Sharon Wolfson are avid cyclists who have been biking in the area for decades and have had some close calls on Route 28.
“They don’t always know you’re there and it’s a little scary because you don’t want to wake up in a hospital. So, I think the bike path makes it much safer for us,” said Sharon Wolfson.

Bird says he just wishes they could have started the project earlier, instead of hitting him during the peak season, but officials say they’re in the same boat.

“We have a short construction season. We need to do it when it’s most feasible for the project,” said Riehle.

Crews have 32 weeks from their June 3 start date to complete the project, so the construction is expected to last throughout the summer. Officials hope the path will eventually drive more business to the area.

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